As advisors to the transport and agricultural sectors, we would like to make farmers, land owners and operators aware that from 20 May 2018, agricultural tractors capable of driving at more than 40 kilometres per hour used for the purposes of carrying commercial goods for trade, will be required to undertake a roadworthiness test on the fourth anniversary after their registration and 2 yearly thereafter.
Haulage Associations including the RHA and FTA monitored the government consultation in relation to the licensing of agricultural vehicles, concentrating on the concerns that such agricultural tractor units were able to compete in the haulage market, without being regulated in the same way with the same standards as those undertaking haulage as their principal business.
It is also important for operators who must comply with the Goods Vehicle Licensing of Operators regime that they feel confident that there is a level playing field and there is no anti competitive behaviour. This news therefore will be welcome to many who are undertaking haulage operations and have to be regulated in relation to Operator licensing requirements and would be supportive of tractors being in the scope of Operator licensing. It is important for farmers running the agricultural vehicles to ensure they are compliant from May 2018. There will be exemptions, for example tractors used for incidental road haulage to the primary business of agriculture will be exempt from the plans. This exemption, for example when a farmer needs to transport goods between two sites close together, and needs to use a public road will not fall within the scope. Close together being defined as 15 miles apart is being considered to be commercial haulage. Some farming operations do have pieces of land in different locations but will have to think very carefully whether they can satisfy the exemption rather than having their vehicle registered in accordance with the Operator licensing regime.
The DFT states this will lead to higher standards across the sector and bringing in technical standards for tractors capable of exceeding 20mph in accordance with the EU Regulation 167/2013 will improve on safety.
Presently in the UK agricultural trailers and towed equipment including tractors are exempt from EU approval and are not subject to approval prior to sale but must meet domestic standards. Those standards are contained in the Road Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations of 1986.
We will be monitoring these changes in the likely introduction of the requirement for tractors to require an Operator licence over the coming months. In the meantime if you are using agricultural vehicles that may fall within the scope, or would like advice as to whether it will fall within the scope then please contact a member of our Road Transport team.